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Donovan calls on utilities commissioner to resign

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: As promised, Bergen County Executive Kathleen A. Donovan today asked for Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority Commissioner Ken Gabbert’s resignation for accepting $4,200 in compensation last year, even though he once opposed such stipends.

“You can imagine my disappointment to hear that, in direct contradiction of this administration’s stated policy and your personal agreement, you have accepted compensation for your part-time duties as a member of the Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority,” Donovan wrote in a letter to Gabbert, a copy of which was obtained by CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

“In doing so you have violated the trust placed in you by me, your colleagues in the Northwest Mayors Association, the Village of Ridgewood and your fellow commissioners whom I appointed and who enthusiastically agreed to serve as volunteers,” Donovan wrote to Gabbert, a former Westwood business administrator who is now the Ridgewood village manager.

“Moreover,” she added, “you violated the trust of the ratepayers and taxpayers of Bergen County who elected me to eliminate cronyism and abuse.”

Gabbert could not immediately be reached for comment.

Donovan called Gabbert out for what she said was his attempt to “rationalize” his actions by relying a what she termed a narrowly-focused judicial decision on when county executives can block salaries and benefits for such commissioners.

Gabbert approved her policy as a member of the Northwest Mayors Association — from whom Donovan enclosed a letter “supporting my actions to
eliminate the stipends by vetoing the minutes of the NBCUA meetings.”

The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders overrode the veto, something Donovan said makes efforts to limit taxpayers costs “tepid at best.”

“Under public pressure, initially the freeholders adopted a resolution eliminating pay and benefits for part-time NBCUA Commissioners,” she added. “They quietly rescinded it after the judge’s ruling, but I remain resolute.

“I was elected to break up the status quo and institute an era of good government built on a foundation of taxpayer friendly public policy. It was a government of which I thought you wanted to be a part.”

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